NAPLAN – writing test

Students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are provided with a ‘writing stimulus’ or ‘prompt’ – an idea or topic – and asked to write a response of a particular text type (genre). Students sitting NAPLAN are tested on either narrative or persuasive writing.

Students in Years 5, 7 and 9 will undertake all NAPLAN tests online. Year 3 students will complete the writing test on paper and all other tests online.

The Public demonstration site allows students to become familiar with the writing panel and editing tools that are available in the online writing test. Writing demonstration tests are available for Years 5, 7 and 9. See these FAQs for examples of paper test prompts.

Students are taught to write a variety of different text types. There are 3 main groups of text types, sometimes called genres. These are imaginative (including narrative), information and argument (also known as persuasive).

Imaginative texts are texts that involve the use of language to represent, recreate, shape and explore human experiences in real and imagined worlds. They are also referred to as sub-genres and include, for example, fairytales, anecdotes, novels, plays, poetry, personal letters and illustrated books.

Information texts are texts that involve the use of language to represent ideas and information related to people, places, events, things, concepts and issues. They include, for example, recounts, reports, descriptions, biographies, explanations, transactional texts, news articles and features.

Argument texts are texts that systematically present a point of view or seek to persuade an audience. They include, for example, arguments, expositions, discussions, letters to the editor, debates, reviews and advertisements.

Visit What’s in the tests – writing.

Since 2014, when the persuasive task was added, the genre for the writing test has not been disclosed prior to the test period.

There is an equal possibility that the writing test will require students to write a response in the narrative or the persuasive genre. Students do not get a choice of genre.

All students receive the same genre of writing task regardless of testing mode: imaginative genre or persuasive genre. Different prompts are used depending on the testing day and student year level.

Different writing prompts are used on different days of testing in order to ensure that there is no advantage to students undertaking the writing test later in the test window.

Yes. The purpose of the writing prompt is to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their best writing in the genre being tested.

The marking guides are developed to assess writing regardless of the topic. The writing tasks are marked using a common marking guide and results will still be reported on the same scale. This means the results can be compared across the year levels as well as across other test cycles where the same writing scale has been used.

The best preparation for all NAPLAN tests is for teachers to teach what is required in the curriculum. In relation to writing, the curriculum requires students to learn about imaginative, informative and persuasive texts. Through these types of texts students learn to write to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue.

School students and the community can visit the Public demonstration site to become familiar with the question types and format of the online tests, and the editing tools that will be available to them in the online writing test. Note: because Year 3 students do the writing test on paper, there is no Year 3 writing demonstration test.

Persuasive writing is marked in a way that closely parallels the marking of narrative writing. Assessment rubrics for both narrative and persuasive writing include common criteria. Nine of the 10 criteria assessed in both the persuasive and narrative marking guides are common. However, each rubric presents those criteria differently, according to how that feature is used in the text type being assessed.

Persuasive writing and narrative writing also have one criterion that is unique to each form. Persuasive writing assesses persuasive devices while narrative writing assesses the development of character and setting. See example marking guides at What’s in the tests – writing.

The test prompt will provide students with the genre and a topic about which they must write. It may provide some images to assist students to develop ideas. Alternatively, the prompt may provide only textual support.

To get an idea of the formats that prompts may take, visit the Public demonstration site (Years 5, 7 and 9) or download the following example test prompts:

Yes. Throughout the test, students will be able to draft their responses and ideas on a separate piece of paper.

Adjustments are provided for students with disability, including assistive technology, with approval from the relevant state/territory test administration authority. Learn more about adjustments at Accessibility.

Scribes are only appropriate for students with disability who use a scribe for regular classroom assessment, and are only available for the NAPLAN writing test.

A scribe is not suitable solely if a student has bad handwriting or doesn't like to write for long periods of time.

NAPLAN support persons assist students with disability with the NAPLAN reading, conventions of language and numeracy tests. Details on the difference between a scribe and a NAPLAN support person, including more information on what they can do and who can fulfil this role, are available in the NAPLAN national protocols for test administration.

For the writing test, students with temporary injuries such as a broken arm will not normally be permitted to use a scribe. This ensures that the student is not disadvantaged on NAPLAN testing days by being introduced to a process that they are not familiar with.

If your child has not been using a scribe in their classroom, but has been using other adjustments such as extra time, they may access these other adjustments for the writing test. You should discuss the adjustments that may be available with your child’s teacher. More information on adjustments can be found at Disability adjustments scenarios.

For the reading, conventions of language and numeracy tests, students with temporary injuries may qualify to use a NAPLAN support person. A NAPLAN support person is different from a scribe. The different roles of a scribe and a NAPLAN support person are set out in the NAPLAN national protocols for test administration.